GUEST COMMENTARY: The other side of the South Shore story

2014-03-21T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: The other side of the South Shore storyBy Cathy Lareau
March 21, 2014 12:00 am  • 

There are two sides to every story. We have been inundated with articles from proponents for the extension of the South Shore commuter rail line to Dyer.

Others oppose the extension. As one opposed, I embrace the opportunity to present the other side on the South Shore.

In 1987, my husband and I moved from Illinois to Dyer, where we could enjoy lower taxes. We discovered many of our neighbors moved from Illinois appreciating the same financial benefits. Throughout the years, we have witnessed and enjoyed the tremendous growth in both the housing market and business district.

Oppose the South Shore expansion. Why?

Promoters say that there is no new tax needed to fund the expansion. In reality, the new County Economic Development Income Tax is needed to fund this proposed $571 million project.

U.S Rep. Pete Visclosky has asked officials in all Lake County communities to commit about 30 percent of their new CEDIT money for the next 10 to 30 years to help fund the proposed building of the extension to Dyer.

CEDIT was created to help each individual community's economic development. It should stay in these communities.

Promoters say this extension would provide 5,600 new daily riders and bring income back to Northwest Indiana. Authorities expect about 2,800 of the current riders to use the new route.

Current riders would shift from communities such as Hammond and East Chicago. How does that help the entire region when, in all probability, the extension will take riders and economic benefits from these communities?

Promoters say the extension to Dyer, and then to Lowell and Valparaiso, could bring an economic boom to Northwest Indiana. If it will require 30 percent of every community’s CEDIT money over the next 10 to 30 years to extend to Dyer, how then would they fund the extensions to Lowell and Valparaiso?

Promoters state a new train station will lessen road congestion. How does adding 5,600 riders to an already-congested area reduce congestion? How would road projects to reduce the congestion be funded?

An extension makes it possible that Lake County residents would see their county income tax raised if more funds are needed.

About 19.8 percent of Lake County residents commute to Chicago; 80.2 percent do not. This is a high price tag for all Lake County residents to incur and for the next generation to inherit.

Proponents paint a beautiful picture of the extension, but there are too many uncertainties and realities of the taxpayer’s money being taken from their own communities and pockets. Keep the South Shore extension in a pretty picture, the CEDIT money in their respective communities and future income in the taxpayers’ pockets.

Cathy Lareau lives in Dyer. The opinions are the writer's.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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